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Homeowners+Renters

Where the damage is in water-damage claims

finger in dike

What happens when you let a third party handle your insurance claim? The answer, in a symbol, is $. Insurers have been sounding alarms about assignment of benefits for a couple of years now, and the issue is ever more in the spotlight. A recent editorial suggests it is time to bring water damage abuse under control.

Here’s what’s been happening: A homeowner with a water damage claim is convinced by a contractor to assign the insurance benefits to him. The contractor stands in the shoes, so to speak, of the insured and deals directly with the insurance company. The problem with that is it can make the claim needlessly more expensive because it links in (sometimes needlessly) additional contractors and leads to (oftentimes needless) litigation.

Old roofs and new rules: Protecting your home from the top

roofer

A so-called 30-year shingle roof does not last 30 years in Florida. Asphalt shingles simply don’t last that long in the brutal Florida sun and with the nearly daily beating from rain over the six months of hurricane season. Some insurers are asking their policyholders to have an older roof inspected; they want a licensed roofer to certify the roof and give it the okay for at least another 3 years of useful life. Other insurance companies may choose to not renew a home insurance policy if a roof is approaching its 20th birthday.

A (single) winter day in Florida

garden-hose

It doesn’t dip below freezing very often in Florida (which is just the way we like it!). When it does, a refresher is in order on what precautions to take so cold temperatures don’t put a freeze on your budget due to costly repairs that could have been avoided. Check out our cold weather survival tips.

Most homeowners insurance policies cover damage from freezing conditions. It’s always best to prevent the damage in the first place, of course. Parts of the Florida Panhandle dipped below freezing over the weekend, and that could occur again in the coming weeks. Cold-weather warnings prompted me to buy all my outdoor faucets a hoodie (see photo above). For about $3 a faucet, it’s a good investment in preparedness, especially since you have to disconnect the hose to slip it on. Freezing temps can cause water locked inside garden hoses to expand and burst – and the cost of those hoses is not covered by insurance.

Frost on the ground in the morning, and in the mid-50s by mid afternoon. Gotta love it!

 

Make it a safely scary Halloween

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The trick-or-treaters are coming! You’ve stocked up on candy; have you taken stock of the safety of your property?

It’s great when homeowners spookify their home for the season. But you don’t want to put the scare into Halloween revelers with hazards that may cause someone to go bump in the night on your property– and sue you for the damages.

Managed Repair Programs: How controlling claims costs benefits policyholders

LaborContractorA

You’ve heard of preferred providers for health insurance policies. They are considered mutually beneficial because insured people get medical services at a reduced rate and the provider gains business since more patients are directed there. Auto insurers have used that model for decades. They have networks of pre-approved auto body shops to repair cars involved in crashes. Because most people don’t know the best place to unbend a fender bender, this is a proven formula for piecing a car back together. Similar programs also exist when a home or business suffers damage. Many insurers have managed repair programs for filing property claims to get damage repaired promptly and correctly – and to help control claims costs.

The most important thing to understand about controlling claims costs is the consumer benefit.

Check hurricane deductible, have a plan to fund it

Understanding-Insurance-DeductiblesA

Let’s start with the most important tip about deductibles: You should NEVER select a higher deductible than you can afford.

Big deductibles reduce the amount you pay for insurance. But the higher the deductible, the more you pay out of pocket when things go wrong. That means selecting a hefty deductible is only smart in a Perfect World. And, while we all wished we lived on that planet, all kinds of disasters happen – manmade and natural – to mess with it, at least temporarily.

You have two deductibles on your homeowners insurance: one is for hurricanes and the other is for everything else. The “everything else” deductible is for things like a fire, lightning strike or water damage, to name a few. It is usually a flat dollar amount, such as $1,000. The hurricane deductible is, obviously, for hurricanes – and for homes valued over $100,000, it starts at 2 percent of what the home is insured for, which is what it would cost to rebuild it. So, if the house is insured for $250,000, a 2 percent deductible would be $5,000.

In Florida, you can select up to a 10 percent deductible. And, some people decide to do that, which is fine if you have a plan to save that amount of money and keep it secured for when the wind blows.

Here is a handy factsheet on how insurance deductibles work in Florida. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation explains when hurricane deductibles go into effect and how long they last. Regulators also require this notice on the declarations page of every homeowners policy, in boldface type of at least 18 points:

“THIS POLICY CONTAINS A SEPARATE DEDUCTIBLE FOR HURRICANE LOSSES, WHICH MAY RESULT IN HIGH OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES TO YOU.”

Now is the time to verify that the deductible amount you chose makes sense for your circumstances.